Some Technical Details
We're not sure if anyone is interested, but here are some of the technical details behind Gmail Notes.
Gmail Notes became technically feasible when Google released Gmail Version 2 in late 2007. One of the great features in Gmail 2 is that each conversation can be accessed by a persistent URL. More precisely, each Gmail conversation has a unique, persistent identifier that can be mapped into a URL. And that identifier can be easily retrieved from the browser and used as a persistent index for each note. To implement our system, we needed three things:
- A server to store notes online
- A way to detect the current Gmail conversation
- A user interface to display and edit notes
As for detecting the current Gmail page, we wrote a browser extension to track the current URL in the address bar. The extension parses the URL to check if it is a Gmail page and if so, in also extracts the persistent conversation identifier.
That's all you need to add notes to Gmail. If it is that easy for us, it makes you wonder why the folks at Google won't take a day or two to put their own note feature in Gmail...